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Nets try to avoid another loss against the Cavs

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Same old, same old. The Brooklyn Nets visited Toronto to play the Raptors on Monday night and kept it close for much of the game. And as usual, the Nets fell apart late and lost 112-100. It was their eighth loss in ten games this month.

Coming to Brooklyn will be the Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have had to make a bunch of adjustments on the fly this season, but they've still been the best team in the East and are the favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. Their last game was a Finals rematch against the Golden State Warriors in Cleveland on MLK Day. And the Cavs got stomped out. This is the first night of a back-to-back for Cleveland. They're home to play the Clippers on Thursday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.


Andrea Bargnani didn't play on Monday thanks to the ankle injury he suffered in Atlanta. No word on his availability.

Nothing doing for Cleveland.

The game

Let's check it





11-31 28-11


97.07 95.09

Offensive Efficiency

98.1 105.3

Defensive Efficiency

105.8 100

Turnover Rate

15.5 14.7

Assist Rate

16.4 17.1

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.4 25.3

Rebound Rate

50.1 52.3

Free Throw Rate

22.7 27.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.8 51.1

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.2 48.9

The Cavs won the first game on a LeBron James game winner.

Speaking of Bron, a friend of ours could be responsible for his improved shooting this month. Netsdaily founder (and writer) John Schuhmann noted that LeBron and Kobe Bryant were the two worst shooters outside of the painted area this year. Since then, Bron has gotten it back together and has regained his three point stroke. He's shooting 43 percent from deep after making only 16 percent of his three point attempts in December. Even with his bad shooting earlier in the season, he's still managed to average 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists a game on 50 percent. They won't make another player like him.

One more on Bron before we move on. Damon Jones got his first coaching job being his shooting coach last season, and LeBron repaid the favor by putting a good word in for Jones with the Cavs' D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge. Here's Jones:

"He’s been very instrumental," Jones said of his coaching career. "He was the reason why I got the opportunity last [season]. He felt comfortable in me helping him in any way possible. It gave me an avenue to get back in the game. Not only right now, but even when I played we had a great relationship and he did a lot of things for my career. Without him, I don’t know if the opportunities I’m receiving right now would be received."

It's good to see players help each other out as they take on new challenges.

Timofey Mosgov underwent knee surgery over the summer and has struggled throughout the year. When he's playing well, he serves as their rim protector and anchors their interior defense. He'll be the main defender on Brook Lopez tonight. Lopez's numbers are low in the fourth as compared to the first three quarters, but he only averages three field goal attempts a game in the fourth. The team has faced constant criticism this season for not keeping Lopez involved in the fourth, so they still have a way to go to make sure they get the most out of their Center. Brooklyn is the worst fourth quarter in the NBA, so limiting Brook's minutes early in the game so he's on the court for most to all of the fourth quarter might be something Tony Brown can look to do.

Thad Young will be the person that will be defending Kevin Love. Love is much more involved in the offense this year and looks more comfortable as a result. He's struggled recently, making only 34.8 percent of his shots in nine games this month. Love is still a beast on the glass and is one of the league leaders in rebound rate. He tries hard on defense, but it's not always pretty. The Nets average about a point per possession (per NBA stats) when they use Thad in the pick and roll and the Cavs allow 1.11 points per possession when Love is targeted in the p&r. Sounds like a perfect match, right?

Player to watch: Kyrie Irving

The former All Star Game MVP missed the first two months of the season as he recovered from the broken kneecap he suffered in Game One of the 2015 Finals. He made his return to action just before Christmas and has appeared in all but two of Cleveland's games (the games he missed were the second nights of a back-to-back). It'll be interesting to see how David Blatt manages his minutes tonight with a better, more challenging team waiting for them tomorrow night.

Donald Sloan has had to defend Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Lowry over the past week and change. All four of them are All Star caliber players and in the case of Parker, probably going to the Hall of Fame when his career ends. Now Sloan gets to cover one of the best guards in the league. Irving is a dynamic ball handler that can create a good shot opportunity for himself at any given moment. He's been a good to great three point shooter so far in his career, but is only shooting 27.9 percent from deep this month. As he gets more games under his belt, expect that number to rise. He's still not a good defender, but Sloan isn't the type of point guard that can take advantage of that.

From the Vault

Next Thursday is the one year anniversary of Kyrie's 55 point game, so let's watch Ky get buckets.

More reading: Fear The Sword